To start this activity students entered class with a "to do" list on the board. Each student desk had two markers and two to three squares of toilet paper.
Step 1. The "To Do list" on the board had four steps
- Sit where there is toilet paper (do NOT, crumple, play, or blow your nose with it)
- 2016 review
- Field Trip
- Start 2017
I showed them my piece of toilet paper which said "Procrastination." I explained that procrastination was a real regret of mine and I felt that if I had managed my time better, then I would have had a better 2016. As a result, this year I vowed to get started on things as soon as they were assigned.
I gave students some time to write down their own regrets and then they had the option to share. Students were invited to share as much or as little as they wanted. Some students talked for quite a bit, and others shared just a word or two.
As they shared, I'd ask who felt similarly, and what solutions we could offer that would help all students.
This is an important part because we are building a class of empathy and helping. We relate to one another and our struggles and share our experiences to improve everyone's life.
- They regret eating so much junk food
- Eat more food from home.
- Bring less money to school
- They regret not doing their homework
- Actually writing down assignments in their planners
- A few of my exchange students regret choosing to study abroad. (sad!)
- We talked about why they regretted it. They missed their family. Speaking in English all the time was hard. While some students had some advice, I think overall it was a good chance for them to empathize with another student.
- Less social media
- I shared a few add-ons that I like (like Dayboard which makes them achieve five things before they can access social media)
We headed to the unisex bathrooms right by my class. Everyone tossed their regrets in the toilet and we literally flushed them away.
Step 4. Returning to class, I asked them to remember this and try to stay focused on making 2017 the best time ever!
I love this activity because it's quick, memorable, students love it, it helped build classroom culture, and it was an easy way to ease students back into the classroom after two weeks off for Christmas break.
I encourage you to give this it try in your class. No need to wait until January 2018 to use this in class. Give it a shot after a rough week, a bad unit, or any other time you just want to help students turn over a new leaf.